2015 Chrysler 300 Limited road test: Comfortable, capable and luxurious

2015 Chrysler 300 Limited

2015 Chrysler 300 Limited

When the 10th generation Chrysler 300 was unveiled in 2004, it hit the asphalt with tires spinning, drawing raves from many corners. A decade later, the 2015 Chrysler 300 has undergone many updates and improvements, but it retains its original swagger, its distinctive design and, more importantly, some of the same mechanical underpinnings..

And that brings us to an important question: Has the current Chrysler 300 just about reached its sell-by date, or is it still a viable alternative to its full-size sedan competition?

Let’s start with its bad-boy design. I know styling is a purely subjective matter, but I feel that, despite updates over the years, the sedan now is saddled with basic styling from a bygone era. A unique, bold exterior can only endure so long until it no longer feels fresh or new. However, it should be noted that the 2015 Chrysler 300 Limited does feature a bolder grille, new wheel design, and a restyled rear with an LED taillight

Chrysler 300 instruments

Chrysler 300 instruments

And, it should also be noted that the Chrysler 300 still stands out from the crowd so, if individuality is a prime consideration, the design works very well.

The interior is a different story. It is modern and luxurious, Leather seating is standard, soft-touch materials abound, and there is an overall upscale ambience somewhat surprising in a vehicle with a base price just over $31,000.

Fortunately, and for many buyers most importantly, the driving dynamics also feel fresh and modern. The 300 was one of the few Chrysler Corp. winners developed during the ill-fated Chrysler-Mercedes-Benz alliance, and it retains the solid feel and competent handling one would expect of a Mercedes-Benz offspring. For the driver, it features surprising agility for a two-ton car and for the passengers it provides a ride that is quiet and comfortable on all but the most seriously pockmarked roads.

The test car was the 2015 Chrysler 300 Limited, which actually is the base car in a lineup that adds the sportier 300S, the fancier 300C and the top-of-the-line 300C Platinum. But, as you will soon see, there is really nothing base about the Limited.

Power comes from a V-6 engine that produces 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It is teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The power comes on smoothly, the transmission shifts almost seamlessly and the two can combine to vault the sedan from a stop to 60 mph in approximately 7 seconds.

Chrysler 300 front seats

Chrysler 300 front seats

Although all-wheel-drive is an option on all V-6 models, the test car came with the standard rear-wheel-drive, an oddity among similarly priced competitors whose vehicles are front-wheel drive. The EPA rates fuel mileage at 19 mpg city/31 mpg highway/23 mpg combined. In a week of driving that was spent mainly on level roads with five passengers, the 300 Limited returned a respectable 24 mpg.

For those who crave the exhilaration of V-8 power, a 363-horsepower “Hemi” is optional on all models but the 300 Limited. However, all-wheel drive is not available with the V-8.

The Chrysler is rated as a large sedan that can carry five adults, but the middle passenger in the rear seat will not be comfortable for any long-distance travel. During my time with the car, there were two 50-mile excursions and both were completed without any serious complaints from the rear-seat passenger who drew the short straw.

For families of four going on vacation, the Chrysler’s trunk will swallow 16.3 cubic feet of luggage.

The 2015 Chrysler 300 Limited comes with numerous safety features, including traction control, stability control, antilock brakes, electronic rollover mitigation, and a full complement of airbags and side curtains.

Available in the optional Driver Convenience Group, not included on the test car, are LED fog lamps, backup camera,and remote start.

Chrysler 300 rear seat

Chrysler 300 rear seat

Also optional but not included on the test car, is the Safety Tec 1 Group, which includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path protection, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.

The 300 Limited has a long list of standard amenities, including dual zone-climate control, automatic headlights, heated front seats, eight-way power front seats, heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice commands, 8.4-inch touch screen, WiFi hot spot access, iPod/USB connectivity and one year of satellite radio.

Add $995 to the base $31,395 base price and you get the Uconnect infotainment system with navigation, HD radio and Sirius XM travel link and traffic.

The total, including the $995 delivery charge, comes to $33,385.

What that all means is that the 2015 Chrysler 300C is a lot of car for the money. However, prospective buyers should check prices on the optional safety features, many of which I consider to be essential on today’s vehicles.

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